I'm a few days away from a birthday. This makes, well, more of them than I care to admit.
No, in case you were wondering, I'm not a big fan of aging. That said, one advantage of getting older is that the ability of self reflect seems to be enhanced over time. I don't know if you'd call it 'wisdom' in my case; as it seems to always take place after the fact. That being said, it does lead to some positive thoughts and a better mindset a good bit of the time. Example-
I was thinking this morning about my return to school in January of 2013 and my path since then and I have to tell you, the more I thought about it the more one sentence resonated in my skull.
I cannot believe how fortunate I am.
I shouldn't have had the opportunity to return, but I did.
Tennessee-Martin didn't have to accept me into their program, but they did.
My parents didn't have to help me afford school, but they did.
J. Berry didn't have to hire me to work at Interlochen after a quarter century absence, but she did.
Mark McArthur didn't have to let me into his studio as a graduate student at UNLV, but he did.
Following Mark leaving UNLV, Dr. Chris Beaty and the faculty at Texas A&M University-Commerce didn't have to allow me to transfer into their program mid year, but they did.
Nicolas at Marca Reeds and Tatsuro at Marmaduke Music didn't have to be as kind to me over the past year or so as they've been, but they were.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that there's a 'Team Andy'......and it has a pretty darned big roster. This is really changing my mindset about things by the minute.
In the past, I've used detractors and naysayers as motivation- "I'll show them!"
Now, the "I'll show them!" is a statement of affirmation for Mom, Dad, my teachers, my friends, and everyone in my corner. It simply means, "I'm going to bust my butt to prove you right." More than that, it means "My success is your success, too!"
So, that brings us to the second part of the title.....avoiding toxicity.
There will always be detractors. Leonard Bernstein had 'haters', Serena Williams has folks who claim she isn't that good. More than this, sometimes situations themselves just aren't healthy and one needs to be objective and learn to recognize a toxic environment when it appears.
That takes time and experience and.....listening to your support system. They can often tell a bad scene even when you can't.
So, what to do when you recognize a situation as being toxic? Well, first, try to figure out if the toxicity can be corrected. What or who is causing the issue? What steps can be taken to correct it?
Here's the big one - Don't be afraid to walk away. NO situation is permanent. NO school is worth being miserable. Yes, you can find another program (if it gets to that).
The POINT is you are studying music because you love it. Even the tough, frustrating situations are supposed to be positive and encourage growth. If they aren't, get away from them.
Your support system will understand. That's why they are your support system.
Prove them RIGHT.
Oh yeah, I have a little website that I'd be honored for you to check out. You can get there at the link below!
Andy Austin Saxophonist.